You’ll never forget
your first time when it comes to getting your own set of wheels.
Improve your odds of making a good choice by using this
Since buying your first vehicle may be your first
big-ticket purchase, don’t just be swayed by glossy
brochures or the gleaming speedsters you see advertised on TV.
This easy checklist covers each step of your
purchasing decision, and what to consider when selecting a new set
- Identify your needs. Focus on why you want a
vehicle. Will you just drive around the city or will you do a daily
highway commute? Will you be on the road every day or just on
weekends? Will you have regular passengers? Does your lifestyle
call for cargo room? The answers will help narrow your selection to
the types of vehicles most suited to you.
- Learn everything you can. When
you’ve narrowed your choices, research online resources
to gather details on particular makes and models, safety records
and handling characteristics. Manufacturers’ websites do
a good job of showing available options and can give a ballpark
figure on costs. For both new and used vehicles, look for reviews
and independent research on third-party websites, including automotive
resources on MSN.ca.
- Get your finances in order. Before you start
kicking tires, get your finances lined up. Unless you have cash,
you’ll likely need a car loan, and your bank can help you
determine what you can afford. There are many kinds of loans with
different repayment terms (such as five or seven years). Your bank
can help you calculate how much you’re eligible for and
at what interest, the size of your monthly payments and how long it
will take to pay it off. Once you know your limits, you can define
your search even more.
- Calculate operating costs. Between fuel,
parking and regular maintenance, a car can be a money pit on
wheels. Before you commit to a purchase, figure out the monthly
costs of owning and operating a car, on top of loan payments.
- Get advance quotes on insurance. Even before
you buy, you can get an idea of insurance costs on certain makes
and models by requesting a quote online. Your insurance premium
will vary depending on your driving record, where you live and the
make and model of car. If you’re a member of an alumni or
professional association, you may be eligible for a discounted
rate, so ask the insurer about this.
- Find a seller you trust. Whether you buy from
a dealer or a private seller, check references and have used cars
inspected. Ask friends and family for a referral to a dealership
they trust. If you feel you are being pressured by any seller, walk
away. Remember, there’s no cooling off period when you
buy a new car: once the contract is signed, it’s
- Hunt for deals. If you’ve got your
heart set on a particular new model, check the manufacturer and
dealer websites for any incentives or special promotions. For
example, some may offer discounts to students or recent
- Try before you buy. Test drive more than one
vehicle to get a good comparison of how they handle in the kinds of
conditions you expect to encounter.
- Load up on any extras. If you have room left
in your budget, consider indulging in your
“wants”, whether this means a special-order
paint job, a dashboard gadget or heated seats. While this costs
more, your car will feel more personalized — and
you’ll likely take better care of it.
- Read the fine print. Before you sign on the
dotted line, make sure you understand any extra costs or conditions
of the sale, like delivery charges.